This Scientist Is a Mass Murderer... of Mosquitoes

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Dr. Bart Knols is a ruthless killer, guilty of mass murder and maybe even specicide.

But instead of being punished for his crimes, he is celebrated. Why?

Because Bart Knols' heinous offenses are committed against the buzzing, flying, six-legged bane of mankind: mosquitoes.

"Everything in my life involves mosquitoes," Knols proudly declares on his website. "They're my passion. But also

my biggest enemy. I admire their beauty. But detest what they do to

mankind. I love to research them. But prefer to eliminate them."

And eliminate them he does. It's a specialty of his. A task he keenly executes with an almost artistic inventiveness, and one that is very personal in nature.

Having lived in Africa for over a decade, Knols witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by malaria and the disease's tiny, blood-sucking airborne vectors. In 1995, his wife, Inga almost died of malaria in Zanzibar. And Knols himself contracted the disease nine times when working in Africa.

Specialized-mosquitoes-may-fight-tropical-disease-B6AOCFH-x-large.jpgJames Gathany, Associated Press

A year after his wife's brush with death, Knols discovered a powerful tool now used in the fight against malaria-carrying mosquitoes: smelly cheese -- Limburger to be precise. He and his research team found that African malaria mosquitoes are strongly attracted to the smell of human feet, and human feet smell an awful lot like Limburger cheese. After further research and years of refinement, scientists engineered a form of Limburger cheese with a smell that is two to three times more attractive to mosquitoes than the smell of humans.

It wasn't exactly pretty how this remarkable fact was discovered. In Knols' original study, subjects volunteered to be placed in a sealed chamber filled with mosquitoes, while Knols and his colleagues monitored the bodily locations where the subjects were bitten.

Thanks to this outside-the-box study and the selfless volunteers, Limburger cheese traps are now used worldwide to attract and kill mosquitoes.

Knols vendetta against mosquitoes wasn't satisfied with smelly cheese, of course. In 2009, he left academia and began what he calls a "a more business-like approach to solving malaria." He has since set-up numerous research companies. One of his ventures, Soper Strategies, focuses almost exclusively on ways to eliminate mosquito-borne diseases in a manner Knols describes as "practical, tactical, with military precision."

In April 2012 at TEDxMaastricht, Knols publicly introduced a state-of-the-art weapon specially designed to eradicate mosquitoes. It comes in the form of a simple, swallowable pill.

Much to the amusement of his audience, Knols demonstrated the pill's effectiveness by swallowing the pill and sticking his arm into a small, transparent box crammed with 700 mosquitoes. The insects quickly swarmed and began feasting on his arm. Knols then showed previously recorded time-lapse footage demonstrating what happens next. About three hours after biting a person who had ingested the tablet, mosquitoes become very sick and and die, their remains littering the bottom of the box.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have swapped the cards with mosquitoes," Knols forcefully proclaimed on stage.

"They don't kill us. We kill them."




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